Sewage floods yards of Baker residents

The bypass pump to help with the Sewage problem on Clark Street. (Source: WAFB)
The bypass pump to help with the Sewage problem on Clark Street. (Source: WAFB)
Sewage in yards on Clark Street. (Source: WAFB)
Sewage in yards on Clark Street. (Source: WAFB)
Drainage pipes for Clark Street. (Source: WAFB)
Drainage pipes for Clark Street. (Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)

BAKER, LA (WAFB) - Residents in one Baker neighborhood are frustrated after sewage-infused water has repeatedly flooded their yards.

People living on Clark Street, right off of Plank Road, said every time it rains, the sewage fills their yards.

"It doesn't have to be a torrential rain. It can be just an everyday rain. Sewer comes out of that hole over there at tens of thousands, hundreds of gallons per minute, enough to knock the lid off the man way," said Mark Hebert, who has lived on Clark Street all of his life. "You can see the buildup on the grass. That's sewer, that's bacteria going on. That's not mud or silt."

Hebert said that human waste is part of the flooding.

"That's a condom, that's feminine protective products. That's raw sewer," he said, pointing to the ground around the manhole cover.

Hebert and his neighbors said the worst of the flooding and sewage issues began about three years ago. That is when the city began a multi-million dollar project laying new pipe and constructing an upgraded pump station at the end of the street.

Joseph Young, the manager of the East Baton Rouge sewer program, said at least one recent flood was the result of a complication with that sewer project on Clark Street.

As part of that work, a contractor installed a large bypass pump, which essentially moves the sewage between different pipelines.

On at least one occasion, Young said, the bypass pump pushed more sewage into the pipe than it could handle, causing overflow into the streets and yards.

The EBR Department of Public Works has told the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality that they will monitor the bypass station to make sure it does not flood the system again. Still, some long-time Clark Street residents said they do not buy it and believe the flooding will continue.

"They haven't handled drainage like they should. Every time it rains it just backs up," said Harold Hogan, who lives down the street from Hebert.

Young said drainage is an entirely different issue and DPW is looking into way of fixing those problems. Large drainage pipes currently lie scattered along the street bed.

For now neighbors fear that excess rain water can seep into the sewer system, maxing out its capacity and causing the dirty flooding.

"It's a never-ending project, and this ain't dry country," Hogan said.

As for Hebert, a life-long resident of Clark Street, he said it may be time to move.

"I would like nothing better than to get out of here, but the property value of my home has been reduced to such that I could leave here penniless," Hebert said. "They need to get in here and finish it and show the people on this street some respect and not just treat us like something that's in the way."

The ongoing sewer project is slated to be completed in the spring. It is expected to answer some of the problems with bigger pipes and a more powerful pump station.

However, that project recently experienced a roadblock. Young said that a newly installed pipeline failed a pressure test, meaning the contractor will
have to go back in and fix it.

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